Welcome to the colorful and occasionally rambunctious world of European Portuguese slang and those words your Portuguese grandma might gasp at! Let’s forget about the standard Portuguese courses (and other great resources) for a second and take a look at the fun side of European Portuguese.
In this article, we’ll dive into the expressions that make Portuguese locals chuckle, the idioms that are as Portuguese as pastel de nata, and yes, even those words that might earn you a disapproving tsk-tsk if uttered in the wrong company. But fear not! We’re here to navigate the nuances of when and how these phrases are used, so you can banter with the best of them without causing a scandal.
Prepare to add a sprinkle of spice to your vocab and maybe even impress—or shock—the locals on your next visit to the land of fado and football. Let’s talk Portuguese, the fun way!
Thanks to Practice Portuguese for several of these. Did you know Portugalist readers get access to this Portuguese language learning tool for less? (see here).
Pronounced as feesh (almost sounding like fish), fixe means cool or nice and it’s a word you’ll commonly hear in European Portuguese (Brazilians use the word “legal” instead).
- Está-se fixe: it’s cool.
- Tá-se fixe: cool
Top means great just like ótimo.
- Este bar é top: this bar is great.
Giro (masculine) or gira (feminine) means pretty or cute. Fofo and fofa are also used.
- Ele é giro: He’s cute.
- Era bem fofo: It was really cute.
Bué means a lot, and it basically means a lot or very. It’s commonly used with the word fixe.
- É bué fixe: it’s very cool
Tuga is slang for a typical Portuguese person (a Portuga). This used to be a derogatory that was mainly used in the former Portuguese African colonies, but is a word that the Portuguese have decided to own.
Pá is a commonly used slang word. It’s usually put on the end of a sentence to mean man. It’s easy to remember because it sounds like pal, which in some English-speaking countries is added onto the end of a sentence.
- Não tenho problemas contigo, pá: I don’t have a problem with you, man
Merda literally means shit although depending how it’s used it can mean fuck. It’s commonly used in Portugal, and isn’t really considered that offensive.
- Merda: Shit, fuck, crap.
- Um problema de merda: A fucking problem.
- Que merda é esta?: What the fuck is this?
Gajo and tipo are two commonly used words which mean guy (or dude if you’re American).
- Há um gajo: there’s this guy.
Literally caralho means cock or dick, but it’s often used to mean fuck instead. Vai pró caralho, for example, literally means go to dick, but probably would translate better as go fuck yourself.
Often you’ll see “de caralho” after a word and it’s essentially the same as adding the word fucking before it. É do caralho, for example, means it’s fucking hard. You can also say é fodido or é uma foda. Basically, the Portuguese have a lot of expressions for how fucking hard things are.
Foder meaning “to fuck” is a word that you’ll often hear in Portugal, usually when someone is telling you to go fuck yourself.
Fodido means fucked, and normally it’s used to say that something is fucked. It comes from the verb foder.
- Vai-te foder: Go fuck yourself.
- Vão se foder: Fuck you.
- Está fódido: It’s fucked.
Porra is another word meaning fuck and one that comes up often.
- Fique em casa, porra: Stay the fuck home.
Words for dick
There are a lot of different words for dick in Portuguese. Here are just a few:
Words for pussy
Similarly, there are several slang words for pussy in Portuguese.
- Cona (similar to cunt, so quite offensive).
Vai mamar na quinta pata do cavalo
Vai mamar na quinta pata do cavalo means go suck on the 5th leg of a horse. It’s probably something you’ll never hear, but it’s so poetic it had to be included.
As to whether anyone actually says this, that depends on who you ask. There is a similar expression, vai mamar na cona da tia, which is a lot more offensive but maybe more suitable if there are no horses nearby.
Puta means whore.
Filho da puta
Filho de puta means “son of a whore,” “son of a bitch,” or “motherfucker”. Basically, it’s an insult against the other person’s mother. While you can call someone a filho da puta in a jokey way, it’s very offensive if it’s not in a fun context.
Weirdly, puto is slang for boy (and not considered offensive).
- Aquele filho da puta: That son of a bitch.
Cabrão means asshole or bastard.
- És um cabrão: you’re an asshole.
The English equivalent of paneleiro would be something like fag or queer. It’s not a very nice or politically correct term, but one that you might come across.
Brazil famously uses the word bicha to mean queer whereas that means a queue or line in Portugal. In Brazil, they use the word fila.
As we wrap up our rollicking romp through the spirited slang and risqué repartee of Portugal, remember that wielding these words with wit and wisdom will not only enrich your linguistic arsenal but also bring you closer to the heart and humour of Portuguese culture.